Princess Kate enjoying a double decker ride in London

Kate, Duchess of Cambridge takes a trip on a double decker bus

Brittany Spears takes a ride on a double decker in London

Britney Spears discovers London on a double decker bus

A double decker at Picadilly

The Routemaster bus, the classic London double decker

What is the best-known symbol of London? Big Ben? The statue of Eros in Piccadilly Circus? Or is it the big red London double-decker bus?

It certainly could. Big red buses are recognised - and even found - all over the world, and people recognise them as symbols of London. Visitors climb into London buses to go and see the Niagara Falls or in our case Arrowtown. London buses can be seen driving round Europe to advertise big department stores, or British events . They don't need to have the words "London Transport" on the side of them: they are instantly recognised by millions of people!

The Connectabus Legends Double Decker outside the Lakes District Museum

The Legends double decker at it's bus stop behind the Lakes District Museum on Ramshaw Lane

The idea of the "double decker" is actually much older than the motor bus; it is simply a continuation of the system that was used for public transport in the age of horse-drawn vehicles, when some of the passengers sat inside, and the rest travelled on the roof. Too bad if it was raining!

It wasn't until the 1930's that all new buses came equipped with roofs over the upper deck! Increasingly powerful engines meant that buses could be bigger and heavier; like trams, they could then have roofs.

The most famous London buses, however, are not those that filled the Capital's streets in the 1930's, but the powerful "Routemasters" which date from the 1950's and 60's. These are the buses that have been taken all over the world, the buses that you can see in the tourist brochures, and the ones which have been sold, in miniature, to millions of visitors and souvenir hunters.

The Routemaster is an icon in itself! With its open platform at the back end, the Routemaster was the most popular bus in London, because passengers could climb on and off anywhere, even if the bus was moving (though this is not recommended!) These buses were designed specially for London, by people who knew what London needed, and they served their purpose well, and did so for half a century !

Things started to go wrong for the London bus in the late 1960's. That was when the Ministry of Transport decided that it would only give financial help to bus companies that bought new buses with doors! Suddenly London Transport found they could no longer buy any more of their favourite Routemasters, that they had designed. They had instead to choose other models. Today, European Union rules also say that new buses for public transport must have doors.

London, however, resisted the bureaucrats! Determined to keep the buses that Londoners (and tourists) want, London Transport decided to keep the old Routemasters going as long as possible. Five hundred of the solid and popular old buses were extensively renovated, and put back on the road as good as new, if not better! But not even the Routemaster could resist the winds of change. Modern transport systems require one-man buses, not buses with both a driver and a conductor. So in 2005, the old Routemasters were finally taken out of normal service.

Still, it's not too late to enjoy travelling on one of these historic buses in London. Some of the old buses have been preserved, and are used on two "heritage routes" through the centre of London, specially for tourists.

Our Routemaster double decker was originally used on the Piccadilly Line and is one of the best examples of this classic model in the world.

Double decker bus Picadilly Circus London

Our double decker bus on her original route Picadilly in London


queenstown double decker bus charter

Spice up that special day for your guests with the Double Decker

Any visit or occassion in Queenstown is special and you know it is something you are all going to remember fondly forever. Add some more magic to that special day with a taste of London’s swinging 60’s, our classic Routemaster Double Decker bus. You and 50+ friends can travel together in our big red bus. 

Affordable charters are available for both full and half days. be sure to book early as the old girl is very popular and only like it in beautiful Queenstown.

Getting married or just wanting to move a group around in a special way, call Morgan now on 0273 257 117 , your friends will love you for it.